Sunday, June 23, 2024

Movie Review: ‘Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2’ is the Ultimate Guilty Pleasure

Director: Rhys-Frake Waterfield
Writers: Rhys-Frake Waterfield, Matt Leslie, A.A. Milne
Stars: Scott Chambers, Tallulah Evans, Ryan Oliva

Synopsis: Not wanting to live in the shadows any longer, Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Owl, and Tigger take their fight to the town of Ashdown, leaving a bloody trail of death and mayhem in their wake.

People who denounce the Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood And Honey franchise have not been exposed to the cruelty of the original Grimm Brothers fairy tales. It’s what makes this film creature spectacular and alluring; this vicious violence mixed with childhood fantasies. It deconstructs the nostalgia bait and turns it on its head, dismantling this sacred place given to particular films and TV series. Instead of honoring and revering a beloved childhood creature like Winnie-the-Pooh, it ravages it, destroying its saccharine fantasy-like cultural impact.

The second installment from the franchise Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood And Honey is directed by Rhys Frake-Waterfield and written by Matt Leslie. The first installment starts by killing the father in a Freudian attack on the fatherly/authoritarian social order, Piglet and Pooh dismantle their honorary father Christopher Robin, and by that, they are free from the grasp of his love. The sequel starts with Pooh, Piglet, and their new friends from the Hundred Acre Woods of Hell, Owl and Tigger, wreaking havoc on the world, killing more victims and attacking nearby towns. Christopher Robin’s character arc gets messier and more ridiculous than in the previous film with a missing kid brother turning out to be a bigger secret than anybody has anticipated. A different actor plays Christopher in the sequel which makes his character appear even more idiotic than the past film. All the more fun for audiences.

It’s hard to look at Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2 without a direct comparison to the first film. The first film lagged and lost its essence, stalling in pace and narrative improvement. The second film has built on the first but the talking mean nightmarish Poohverse characters have stripped the mystique of the first film. The mute monster trope that found its fame with Jason Voorhees returned to the stage with the Terrifier series, and despite the Pooh franchise extending that, the sequel has lost it with the babbling, gurgly monster talk.

There’s something cathartic about this film. The danger is so far away and detached from reality. Who will go into the woods and meet their end at the hands of half-animal, half-human monsters from a dark fairytale? Fools and horror movie characters who usually deserve what comes to them. It’s not The Cabin in the Woods, Wolf Creek kind of fear where characters from an eerily familiar setting face horrifying consequences; this seems like an unrealistic, demented situation where stupid people seem pulled into this trap through a hidden magnet in their brains. It’s the most guilty-pleasure fun anyone can ever watch, especially if they seek fun after a boring, long workday at the office. 

The sequel is cheesier and more fun to watch. As is the fact that none of the human characters are sympathetic or well-fleshed out. They all seem to exist in a syrupy, unrealistic world where people exist just to be prey to those mythical, bloody, and honey-thirsty creatures. By stripping all the human characters of any sympathetic, likable traits, the filmmakers and writers tone down the gorefest that can sometimes be overpowering in the film.

So what is the root of this genre? Senseless, dull, stupid violence where villainous, mask-wearing characters rarely speak, have a background story or even bother to explain themselves. This is when people won’t even bother delving into Jigsaw’s backstory or the creepy Hostel surgeons. Winnie-the-Pooh, clan-like Art the Clown from Terrifier, are eerie, voiceless monsters that only relish the art of dismembering humans in as messy a way as possible. According to box office numbers, these films are faring well. But what can their massive success tell about today’s modern society? For starters, there is a lot. Imagination and creativity rooted in the familiarity of original tales and standard formulas seem to be a recipe for success. The world may or may not be ready for another wave of torture porn, but are the heydays of the aughts unhinged, sadistic, bloodbath of the early aughts gone, never to be revisited by another filmmaker? It seems like the degree of grim believability that the early aughts torture porn crown jewels –The Collector, Martyrs, High Tension– have showcased has now become a thing of history. What remains is a hybrid film genre between slashers and senseless violence. Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood And Honey 2 is undoubtedly one of them.

Grade: B+

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